Cell-Phone Novels New, Kid-Ennui Not

Thumbs Race as Japan’s Best Sellers Go Cellular

Pretty standard article on the topic, and the fact that the New York Times can’t even find the real human being(s) behind now-millionaire “Mika” — the “anonymous” author of Koizora — bolsters the probability of the whole thing being a hoax at a certain level. The real money quote was from teenage novelist Rin:

“(Young people) don’t read works by professional writers because their sentences are too difficult to understand, their expressions are intentionally wordy, and the stories are not familiar to them”

I would wager that almost all teenagers around the world dislike reading difficult or serious “literature.” Madame Bovary did not really tell “my story” at 16. Sometimes Flaubert’s translators used words and sentences I did not use in my everyday life.

The difference seems to be that Japanese kids have constructed their own ideology to legitimize this antipathy as generational conflict. New technology then allows them to write and consume amateur novels that “match” their demand for dumbed-down texts, and the book publishing industry has legitimized these keitai novels as a separate “hot” genre in their quest for revenues. In the past, kids just dealt with shortcomings in their native language by either not reading books, only reading what was assigned in class, or working towards the attainment of skills required to enjoy literature. Kids haven’t changed; the less “elitist” media complex just caters to their needs better and embraces their teenage lack of curiosity as the latest trend.

W. David MARX
January 21, 2008

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